As China's Consumer Floodgates Open, a Local Tesla With Added Range Is There to Greet Them

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Timing is everything, a famous person (possibly Gerald Ford) once said, and it would seem Tesla is in a position to capitalize on the returning consumer strength of the Chinese marketplace.

In a week that will be remembered by many Chinese as bringing about a return of free will and movement, such as that country can offer, Tesla plans to begin offering a domestically built Model 3 with considerable range.

As reported by Bloomberg, the Shanghai-built variant boasts more than 404 miles (650 km) of range per charge, company sources claim. That’s a marked upgrade from the roughly 280 miles offered by the base Chinese-market Model 3, and about 40 miles more driving radius than the Long Range version.

Pricing hasn’t been set for the longer-legged model, though Bloomberg’s sources point to a price just below the $50,000 mark. That’s a fairly short walk from the $45,800 entry-level model.

The range stated here isn’t translated into U.S. figures; still, the claimed 404 miles would still put this Chinese-market Model 3 well ahead of the loftiest version offered here. In the U.S., the Model 3 Long Range earns an EPA rating of 322 miles. Could the same range upgrade make its way to U.S. consumers once Fremont starts cranking out cars again? Stay tuned.

As for Chinese buyers, relative freedom has returned to the people of Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, barriers (both physical and legal) came down, allowing residents of the industrial heartland city to leave self-isolation — the city itself — after 76 days spent in lockdown. The same day, China reported no COVID-19 deaths in the country for the first time since the virus blew up in January.

Those are numbers provided by the country’s single-party state apparatus, so lend them whatever weight you think is warranted.

While the country’s economy and manufacturing base has been attempting to return to strength in recent weeks, the opening of Wuhan signals the start of a new chapter. As reported by The Hill, Wuhan’s deputy mayor claims 93 percent of the city of 11 million’s businesses have reopened. Millions of Chinese are hitting up national parks, with pictures posted to social media showing tourists jammed butt-to-gut in a mountain pass.

Outside observers, many of whom question the real extent of that country’s viral damage, claim China’s eagerness to reopen everything puts it at risk of a coronavirus flare-up — one that, as we’ve tragically seen, can turn into a wildfire all too easily.

As for Tesla, the automaker’s Shanghai plant was only offline for a few weeks as a result of the virus. As the company reportedly prepares to welcome a longer-ranged Long Range, “new energy vehicle” buyers in China will eventually have a locally built Model Y crossover to choose from. Just how many of them choose to do so depends on the country’s economic status and whether cautious declarations of a virus victory prove premature.

[Image: B.Zhou/Shuterstock]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Apr 08, 2020

    "The same day, China reported no COVID-19 deaths in the country for the first time since the virus blew up in January." You did know that Baghdad Bob emigrated to China?

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Apr 08, 2020

    So China's consumer market get to go back to normal after inflicting all of this on everybody? That would really be too bad. There needs to be an investigation before that happens. Imports are even worse. I'm afraid they're going to have a huge competitive advantage, even more than now, because they don't really care about the health and safety of their citizens and will lie about the data (example - the "facts" in this article). Whereas we are going to have all kinds of restrictions for a very long time.

    • See 1 previous
    • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Apr 08, 2020

      I truly hope so Jim C. But I think until we can figure out the cause of the Wuhan Red Death, what was done and what was covered up by the Chinese government, the truth about how many people are really dying there, and how safe the workers who are making our cheap trinkets are, I think there has to be some sort of a trade embargo on China. That sounds extreme I know. And I'm sure I'll get flamed for it. But that's what I think has to happen. Nothing seems too extreme now to me. To do otherwise would be cowardly.

  • Lou_BC Blows me away that the cars pictured are just 2 door vehicles. How much space do you need to fully open them?
  • Daniel J Isn't this sort of a bait and switch? I mean, many of these auto plants went to the south due to the lack of unions. I'd also be curious as how, at least in my own state, unions would work since the state is a right to work state, meaning employees can still work without being apart of the union.
  • EBFlex No they shouldn’t. It would be signing their death warrant. The UAW is steadfast in moving as much production out of this country as possible
  • Groza George The South is one of the few places in the U.S. where we still build cars. Unionizing Southern factories will speed up the move to Mexico.
  • FreedMike I'd say that question is up to the southern auto workers. If I were in their shoes, I probably wouldn't if the wages/benefits were at at some kind of parity with unionized shops. But let's be clear here: the only thing keeping those wages/benefits at par IS the threat of unionization.